Senate Changes, Medical Privacy & H.J. Res. 38 

     
June 5, 2001


The recent change in the U.S. Senate leadership dramatically increases the
importance of repealing by June 15, 2001 the so-called federal medical
privacy rule that was promulgated by the Clinton administration.  Our window
of opportunity is quickly closing and Senators Ted Kennedy and Hillary
Clinton will soon start working aggressively to keep it from opening again.

The much-touted federal medical privacy rule is a 367-page sham on the
American people and as time passes, more people are realizing just how
dangerous this 367-page monster is.

On February 9, 2000, we alerted you to the fact that your private medical
records and those of your children will soon be an open file - without your
consent or knowledge.  Thousands of you sent comments to Health and Human
Services objecting to this dangerous rule.  On June 14, 2000, Congressman
Ron Paul introduced an amendment to a Labor-H.H.S. appropriations bill that
would temporarily withhold funding for the creation and implementation of
the "unique health identifier." Dr. Paul's amendment was accepted due to
your efforts at the time.  However, on October 13, 2000, our success with
the Paul amendment was threatened.  A conference committee was planning to
remove the Paul amendment at the last minute.  However, due to your quick
action, the threat was squelched.

On March 15, 2001, Congressman Paul submitted H.J. Res. 38 to outright
repeal the so-called federal medical privacy rule because of it being such
an enormous sham on the American people.  Dr. Paul submitted H.J. Res. 38
under the Congressional Review Act of 1996.  The Congressional Review Act
allows Congress to repeal, within 90 days, a federal agency's regulation by
bypassing the normal time-consuming and cumbersome legislative procedures.
In other words, H.J. Res. 38 can bypass the normal House committee process
and go to the House floor for a vote and, if passed by the House, it will
bypass the Senate committee process as well and go to the Senate floor for a
vote.

If H.J. Res. 38 doesn't pass by June 15th, it can only be resubmitted as a
standard bill; thus being subject to the normal legislative process - and
that is when Senators Kennedy and Clinton come into play.  When the U.S.
Senate changes its leadership, Senator Kennedy will become the chairman of
the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Senator
Hillary Clinton will be a majority member of that committee.  Senator
Kennedy's committee, with Senator Hillary Clinton as one of its members,
will be the Senate committee that has jurisdiction on any bill that would
attempt to repeal the federal medical privacy rule - the very medical
privacy rule that Senators Kennedy and Clinton have worked so hard to create
and implement.  The very two people who created the monster that we are
trying to slay are now going to be in a strong position to protect their
monster from harm.

Keep in mind that Senator Kennedy, in 1973, was instrumental in creating
health maintenance organizations (HMOs).  Senator Kennedy touted HMOs as the way to lower the cost and improve the quality of health care in the U.S.
How many people believe that has happened?  Keep in mind that he and Mrs.
Hillary Clinton, in 1996, were instrumental in designing and passing Health
Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) and it was
HIPAA that later spawned the now-famous, so-called federal medical privacy
rule that we've been fighting against.  How many people believe their health
insurance is now more portable and accountable?  By the way, if you thought
the infamous Clinton Health Security Act of 1992-93 (commonly known as
Hillary Care) with its socialized prescription of assigning a  "unique
health identifier" to every man, woman, and child; of creating a
government-sanctioned national medical database; of rationing health care,
etc. died, then think again.  HIPAA, passed in 1996, is Hillary Care - alive
and well!

Congressman Ron Paul hosted a briefing about the federal medical privacy
rule for congressional staff on May 16, 2001 so they could learn how sham
the privacy rule really is.  Dr. Paul asked Sue Blevins the president of the
Institute for Health Freedom to speak to the congressional staff members.
Fifty-one staff members attended.  Ms. Blevins, a registered nurse and
health policy expert, has actually read and studied the 367-page federal
medical privacy rule.  She told the audience that the so-called medical
privacy rule actually weakens a person's ability to control access to their
medical records while giving the federal government and its agents greater
authority to access a person's medical records - without patient consent!

Sue Blevins characterized HIPAA and the resulting federal medical privacy
rule as being the most sweeping, government-devised change of health care in
our country's history; even more sweeping than the establishment of Medicare
and Medicaid and HMOs.  Ms. Blevins gave each staff member a briefing
book documenting her findings and conclusions as a result of her study of
the 367-page rule.  You can read this same briefing book and  Ms. Blevins'
outstanding summary title "Myths & Facts" by clicking
http://www.forhealthfreedom.org/Publications/Privacy/MedPrivLinks.html .

The so-called federal medical privacy rule will give us dramatically less
control over the privacy of our personal medical records than we have now
and give the federal government and authorized third parties more access to
our most personal information WITHOUT our consent.  Examples of third
parties and purposes for which access to our records is permitted include:

1. Oversight of the health care system.
2. FDA monitoring (including dietary supplements).
3. Public health surveillance and activities.
4. Foreign governments collaborating with U.S. public health officials.
5. Research (if an Institutional Review Board or privacy board waives
consent).
6. Law enforcement activities.
7. Judicial and administrative proceedings.
8. HHS-Office of Civil Rights.

"The regulations also permit doctors and health plans to release intimate
medical records to government agencies for almost any purpose, reversing the
old presumption that release is unethical unless required by law," wrote
Brigid McMenamin in "Prescription for Snooping - New Medical Privacy Rules
Will Only Open More Files to Unwarranted View," Forbes, May 28, 2001.

We must continue our work and see that the U.S. House vote on H.J. Res. 38
no later than June 15, 2001.  House Speaker Dennis Hastert can make it
happen.  He can schedule a vote on H.J. Res. 38 and that is what we are
asking him to do.

Contact Speaker Hastert in one or both of the following ways:
1.  Sign a petition at
http://www.thelibertycommittee.org/medprivacypetition.htm .
Petitions are delivered daily to Speaker Hastert's office.
2.  Call Speaker Hastert's office at 202-225-0600.

Our window of opportunity is closing and there are those who will work to
keep it closed.  Please sign a petition now and call Speaker Hastert's
office to ask him to schedule a vote on H.J. Res. 38.

Kent Snyder
The Liberty Committee


 

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